When I was a senior at Pinole Valley High in the East Bay, Northern California, I was given an assignment in an English class to write a poem about something that's almost impossible to put into words. I wrote about sitting on the start line.
I poured myself over this assignment for days, trying to explain a feeling that 10 years later I still struggle to find the words for.
I was always a kid who cared about doing well in school. And the deal with mom & dad was good grades in exchange for dirt bikes and playing hookie to go ride. But looking back, I don't know why I was SO deeply invested in a writing assignment that I KNEW for a fact no one in my class would understand.
I didn't care if they did. For once, I didn't care about my grade on the assignment.
The motive behind my writing, and thinking, and deleting, and typing, and deleting, and typing again was more for me than anyone else. I desperately wanted to understand that feeling of tingling weightlessness, where the pull of gravity ceases to exist and time slows to a crawl. The eerie deafening silence that somehow drowns out a hundred roaring engines. The meditative focus that allows me to hear nothing but the booming sound of my heart and the soft, slow whooshing of air filling and leaving my lungs. Feeling the vibration of blood cells tumbling through my veins. Clarity. Sureness. Awareness. Confidence. And a strangely overwhelming feeling of peace and comfort.
I was - and still am - captivated by the nearly out-of-body spiritual experience and energy that sweeps over me every single time I sit on the line waiting for the official to pull the trigger or wave the flag that in an instant brings us back to Earth in a blaze of glory and roost. To me, there's absolutely nothing like it in the world.
The only thing in my life that has ever exceeded it in terms of indescribable spiritual intensity was a painful but pivotal moment in my life, 3 years after writing this poem, when I sat at the foot of a hospital bed watching my hero and idol in life dying of pancreatic cancer right before my eyes. At the time, I did not believe in God.
And yet there I was, tears streaming down my face and a knot in my throat as I listened to Dave comfort us with an almost unrecognizable whisper compared to the booming voice he once had.
Dave Wright. Comforting US. As HE laid in bed well aware that he only had days left.
Dave Wright. The one guy in my life who I truly thought was invincible.
"I wanted to be the guy that showed you miracles can happen.
Well... I still get to be that guy. Cause Heaven is a miracle to me."
as he smiled at us and his eyes sparkled in his pale face and frail body.
"I get to go home. I get to go home. I get. To go. HOME."
In that moment, that same feeling came crashing down on me. And it confused the hell out of me.
That same weightlessness, goosebumps and sense of peace, calm, and sureness that rushed over my body every time I sat on the line. Except now, I was just about as far from the adrenaline and excitement of a race as I could possibly get. Instead I was sitting there in that cold, cruel hospital as I choked through tears and faced my first real loss in life head on. As I leaned down and hugged Dave, feeling skin and bone where was once solid muscle, I felt an energy radiating out of him that was so powerful it took my breath away, filling me with strength and peace at the same time. In the darkest, saddest moment of my life thus far I was learning about something way bigger than myself.
Somehow, through the heaviness of that day I accepted the fact that this feeling, along with the horrible losses and pain in life, was not for me to understand. Not for me to figure out. Not for me to explain to others. I came to know that feeling as God putting his hand on me and letting me know that in that moment, I am right where I'm supposed to be, and that everything was going to be okay.
In the hospital that day, I promised Dave I would always give everything in life my best, and that I would trust that feeling and let God mark the path. With peace, and trust, and without demanding to understand.
Fast forward to 7 years later, in the middle of a life halting pandemic, where I got to slow down long enough to realize that in the blur of trying to grow up and get my life together, I had lost that connection and sureness in the road I was on. I wasn't happy and passionate about what I was doing with my new career. And I felt like I had lost myself.
Taking advantage of the pandemic, I took some time to truly evaluate my life, think about what truly makes me happy, what fills me with joy and energy, what I would choose to do even if money didn't exist. That combination of things is dirt bikes, fitness, nutrition, and inspiring others to live up to their full potential, just like Dave taught me. (And right on cue, that overwhelming feeling showered down on me again. And it was all I needed to change directions and make my paths straight.)
I've learned to trust that "feeling" so much, that when I feel it I don't ask questions, I just take action. No matter how scary, no matter how irrational, no matter what anyone else thinks. Because how my life unfolds is up to me and God only. And maybe Dave if he has any say up there.
And so, the last year and a half (from the date of this post) I have been doing just that. Taking relentless action making up for lost time in bringing this dream to life that I call Startline Fitness. Naming this dream project and business was a no brainer, because I now get to experience every single day at least a tiny glimmer of that indescribable invincible feeling and energy that started the very first time I rolled up to a start line, and that continues to wash over me every time I take one more step in the direction of my dreams.
Now, it's my job and duty as a coach to pass that energy onto you.
Happy Birthday Dave, I hope you're proud.